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Dillon Beach

I remember when I was young coming to Dillon Beach the first time with friends. A boyfriend in fact. A group of couples camping, I was maybe 14. Then we came often alone. Then I came often alone- after I’d run away. This place has always held a piece of my heart. Wasted youth.

Oh the parties we had on the beach, the bonfires and fun. To be so young and so in love with life; in love with him too. I remember. I still had so many hopes and dreams- school, friends, family and travel. I was 13 when I met him and almost 16 when I left him; when I left the life that I knew.

I met John on my 13th birthday in fact at the kegger my 20 year old boyfriend and I were throwing at my house. Good times. My mother had left for the evening- intentionally so I could have the party. My uncle had furnished a few extra bottles of booze; pre-mixed Long Island Ice Tea, Meyers Rum and of course my fave Southern Comfort. Yes times were different.

Bobby Scott was the older boyfriend who I would leave shortly after my birthday. I’d been in love with him since maybe the age of 9; the local charmer from Arden Manor. He used to have all the girls swooning at the swimming pool- he was a diver from the high board. Bobby was always sweet to us though and threw everyone off his shoulders into the water. He died a few years back from a broken heart in his addiction.

If you would have said I would grow up to be an addict when I was a kid- no one would have believed you. I didn’t even know what an addict was. I did though, grow up to be an addict. Yes through the choices I made I chose using over everything until I found a new way to live.

I remember coming to this beach about 8 years ago with my family and as my kids played in the ocean I laid back and shed a lot of tears for the life that I chose. How did that happen? I knew exactly when- when I ran and left him. I would not stop running for years. Sure I came up for air sometimes, but those wee brief moments never lasted long.

It was an argument with Mom that sparked it. John and her were close, close enough for her to write letters all over the state of California helping him get on with the California Department of Forestry. However this argument led to a threatening of police intervention and having him arrested for statutory rape. The man I had been with for years. The man I planned a whole lot of my life with, her too. The man that I convinced to let me terminate the child I was carrying. I wanted to wait.

His mother took that real hard, so did John. Something was different in me though. I was already using more than anyone knew and had witnessed too much. The secrets were already there. The things that I had been subjected too and seen at a young age would already mold my thinking- for years to come.

After the argument I went to John, he knew, she had already been to his work. His words, let me shower and we can go together to talk to her, we will work it out and it will all be ok. Of course I said ok. He jumped in the shower, I yelled in I was going to the corner for a pack of smokes- I never returned. Ever to him.

My sense of protection was all I had for so long. Warped I might add. I was not protected when I was young so all I had was the code that I would create- what meant something to me. To leave at all costs and protect them from her and her would eventually become me.

Well right now my grandchildren are stirring and I must get breakfast started. So far it’s ice cream and cocoa until I create a masterpiece for my family. We are at the beach house at Dillon Beach. I’ve shed a few tears this morning alone before anyone woke as I looked out the bay window clacking this out on my phone sipping my coffee in between.

I have an incredible life. I know the choices that I made have led me to the life that I have today and I appreciate it so much. I’ve learned from that little girl, I’m still learning from that little girl. The more I write the more she heals. So I will continue to write, I will continue to heal and I will continue to love my life!

Addict · Addiction · Bloggess · Family · Life · Life story · Mother · Recovery

The Derailment

Have you ever started writing a book about your life and then life shows up to remind you what your life was really like? Well that is what happened on January 6, 2018. Thankfully I have solutions for those moments, people I can reach out to, places I can go share and I no longer stay captive to those feelings. The feelings that a look can bring. The look from across the table that can take you back to the age of when you were 12. To the memories.  Don’t open your mouth or say a word Christine. I look back now, I look them right in the eye. I didn’t say anything by the way, my children were at the table and I am older and a bit wiser. I choose to protect them- I try my very best to protect them; today.

My truth is I looked them right in the eye when I was 12- that might have been one of the problems. The problem for them, not for me. The them was my Mother and the visit that caused the derailment was with her sister, my Aunt Lupe who is only 2 years older than me.  The simple question asked by my son at the family gathering was when was the last time you saw each-other. The last time, as we all sat and pondered from either ends of a very long table, was when I was 12. Good-times the age of 12 was for me. I was already using on a regular basis. I had a voice. A voice that I would use to never have me taken back to Yuma, Arizona again. A place I had never seen until just a few summers earlier.  A place with people I never knew existed – family.

Family is a funny thing, or at least my family is. I choose to look at it that way now- funny. In actuality it is probably sad to some, disturbed to others and still others probably sick and twisted. Still to some who viewed it from the outside it was perfect and everything was in order for a single mother raising two children. It is what it is to me! It is what shaped so many areas of who I am and how I responded to life’s situations when I was younger.  I respond differently now, I have grown. In spite of what happened or the choices I made I have an amazing life.

As I started to write this book I wondered to myself when I would get into the nitty-gritty.  Would I write about my here and now or would I just jump in. Well that visit was enough to remind me why I am writing. This is a healing process- something no one may ever read but myself. As I type I read and re-read again and again. Is that what I want to say? Is that what I want to write? What if they read it? Who cares- it’s my story! The life that I have is a beautiful one and as I type out these words my grandson Vincent is playing on his Nintendo Switch- he just woke up and we have already decide what game I will buy him today. I am one French Press in of my favorite coffee and can see the chicken’s scratching up the leaves looking for worms.

Well it is evening now and I have had a very long day of basketball games and shopping with the grandson and daughter- now I have three grandsons here and the oldest on the way. A total of four grandsons I have so far- names oldest to youngest – Angel, Vincent, Anthony and Roman. Amazing! These boys know who I am. I am here with them, I am their Grandmother. I may not have been the best of mother’s but I am a perfect grandmother.

Now back to 12 or at least to the events leading up to 12.  Imagine if you will going a long trip in a little car, mostly in the middle of the night. I was about 9 maybe? This is my recollection by the way and if you ask my mother or even my brother I am sure it sounds way better. A long ride straight through with a few bathroom breaks ending in a place I had never been before with people I didn’t know. My grandmother Virginia, her husband Toribio and my aunt as I mentioned Lupe were at the end of that road trip. We would spend a few weeks there. I remember feeling not right at a young age in this place.  Could it be the way my mom was acting? Probably- Mama this and mama that. I had never seen this from my mother.

My mom don’t get me wrong is an amazing woman who did the best she could do. She came from a time though when, in my opinion, the boys were served first if that makes sense. She was raised on a farm, a hop farm in Weatland, California and was the oldest of six. I am sure that meant a lot of cooking and cleaning not just for them but the farm hands, which back in the day was the children too. Back in a day when you did what you were told and probably kept your mouth shut. Please don’t talk to me about the respect your elders time. My elders were fucked up!

On to Yuma, Arizona as a child and coffee with Michael in the summer. We were imagining remember- go back there and close your eyes. What was it like to visit at age 9 for a few weeks and then to drive back at the age of 10 on that same trip only to be left in the middle of the night with those strangers that were your family for the whole summer.  You woke up to find your mother had left you. With people you didn’t know or like! With a girl, your aunt, who was 12 who certainly didn’t like you. She had her friends and things to do- summer sports and outings and you were a bother.  I busied myself with swimming and TV and one day mom drove back up to get me. Let me set the scene. I can’t even almost, the tears are welling up as I type.  She drove up and for the week, she sewed my aunt a new wardrobe, I got her hand-me-downs, what she couldn’t make her she bought her, I got her- hand-me-downs, then we drove home. I was happy to be home.

Age 11 you take that same drive again during the summer. Oh by the way during those summers my brother was at the most amazing summer camps I heard back at home- he didn’t have to stay because he was older I guess and could watch himself.  Back in Yuma (we are still imagining but this was my reality) you wake up to the fact she left you again in the middle of the night! You cry a lot and treated not so nice because of it. You are a bother once again to a girl who was now 13 and a family who you know a bit more but didn’t care for more either. So you sit  alone in one end of the house watching something called MTV.  This was new to you and saved your life because you didn’t have that in Sacramento, California yet. You are now writing letters home to your best friend Jessica who lives across the street. She tells you of the foreign exchange students living at your house, in your room- more exciting times and fun for my brother.

Age 12- FUCK YOU! Let me share with you a secret- I had many. I started using at the age of 9, a young girl whose grandfather started giving her drinks sitting in parked cars; not all the time but on a regular basis. Who by the age of just 11 he tried to pull her close in that parked car to kiss her. I was old enough by 11 to know he was my grandfather, I also had enough sass in me because he was giving me more on a much more regular basis by then so I had a mouth. When he made his move and I pushed him away I had lost the trust of that man who was pretty much my father figure and something turned in me. Instead of telling my mom, who I didn’t trust because she had left me, who worked out-of-town and was never there anyway- I told that man I wanted more. More alcohol and by this time more marijuana which he was giving me too.  I was all that and a bag of chips in my neighborhood!  Fun times.

I would not sleep that night in Yuma. You would not leave me again! Mom taught me to drive that trip on our way, just me and her in her little Plymouth Champ 5 speed- we drove stick then people. So I now knew where I was, I knew the freeway, the streets from the freeway to grandma’s. You know you have that feeling when things happen.  I saw my mom gathering things on the sly. I saw a suitcase packed, but not my things- I would not sleep. I remember sitting on the couch late into the night.  I remember them sitting at the table talking in Spanish- she stopped me at a young age speaking Spanish so we didn’t have an accent and they could talk about things in front of us we wouldn’t understand. I remember the sounds of the car starting and pulling out of the driveway. I woke up. I remember running out of the house screaming down the street not to leave me, to come back for me. It was 4am and I was told to get in the house. I remember not lasting long in Yuma, Arizona again- I knew where I was. At the age of 12 I was hitch-hiking back to Sacramento, California. Needless to say they got me not far away, sent me home and I never had to return there again. It would be the last time I saw my aunt Lupe, I was 12. Until, that is, at my grandson Vinnie’s birthday on January 6, 2018 when my son Niko asked when was the last time you saw each-other.

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Addict · Addiction · Autism · Bloggess · Family · Life · Life story · Mother · Recovery

What It’s Like Being Her Mom

I know what it is like to be the mother of an Autistic child- I don’t forget ever, it’s impossible.  We also get the added enjoyment of ADHD, Anxiety and Depression all diagnosed and rolled up into the most brilliant beautiful 16 going on 17-year-old girl named Irene. Sometimes though I just don’t think anything of it, it’s just a day like any other day. Some days are harder, some are easier- they just blend. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for Irene though.

It has been a while since we have had a complete meltdown, they look different today.  I am not sure if it’s the 3 years of Social Skills classes, the 3 different psychotic meds she’s on currently or just the fact that she is getting older and the kids don’t pick on her as much?  Maybe the world is becoming softer to the world of Autism? The stares have lessened, the kids teasing and poking fun because they know if they poke just enough she will start screaming uncontrollably and then the tears start- that is fun for some to watch. Please don’t talk to me about medication on such a young girl either, I struggled with it myself considering I am a recovering addict for so long and probably added undue trauma to my child by not easing her symptoms earlier. She has made great strides with medication, especially since she was diagnosed Depressive. Prior to Social Skills and meds what it looked like for us was borderline Schizophrenia and having done the research I know we are not out of the woods yet on that one.  The silent giggles and laughter to who I do not know. I try not to worry, I have faith, but I live in reality as well.

Things we get to work on, and when I say we I mean Irene and myself- her father and siblings are very much in the picture but it’s just not the same.  It’s Irene and myself mostly together against the world.  Sometimes I forget that – I get wrapped up in life and the things I want to do as an adult. I forget that if I am not there she is pretty much alone, the truth is that when I am there she is pretty much alone too. I have to force her out, planned adventures that must have a lot of quiet time. That sounds so much like myself I cannot even explain.

At times I forget about the crowds and the sounds- I forget about Autism and Anxiety altogether. I fail. She is not like my other children. She is special.

I recently took Irene with me to an out-of-town convention that I had worked on for almost two years.  I wanted her to see the sights. I wanted her to see what her mother had done, what took me away from her and my family on late nights and all day meetings, where I had dragged her to events leading up to and what for. I wanted her to see. I failed to recognize the commotion, sounds and fear that it might cause my child- I forgot. I knew I would be paying a lot of money for banquet meals she would not eat, I was paying for her to sit with me. Irene eats about seven different things and four of those are a potato in a variety of different ways. Before the meal was over she had asked to be excused to the hotel room and at that moment I knew.

I knew she had left her earmuffs at home, she had left her headphones which are actually her security in the hotel room- she had even left her knitting and her phone was dying. These are the things that comfort her. These are the things that allow her to join in with others, but allow her to escape at a moment’s notice. These are the things that sometimes, I say sometimes, stop her from pulling her hair out or mutilating her body by picking at imaginary things that are not there- scarring herself. I cannot stop these things from happening and I know she can’t either. It hurts. It hurts me that my daughter is hurting and I can’t help her. No one can, this is just our life.

You come to grips with it. This is it. These are the things she does. Will it be forever?  Will she grow out of it? Who knows? My job – to try to remind her to stop pulling her hair out in a kind and loving way that does not seem like nagging bringing her to tears. To try not to cringe when I see the gaping whole on her chest that she has gouged out because she knows if it can’t be seen people won’t stare. The truth is they stare as she is doing it. Where? In class, at dinner out, in the grocery store lines and anywhere she gets bored at. I try very hard to let it go as she is doing it because I know it upsets her.  I don’t think she’s aware she’s doing it- they have just become her new mannerisms. Such as when she bounces off the walls at home down the hall or the humming when things are going really good. Those are the things I look for, the things I know that when I see and hear I know everything is alright in her little world.

The struggle. With all of that there is an even harder struggle. The struggle that she looks just like everyone else. That she is smarter than so many her age. No one thinks she is different and they suggest just let her go, go run off and hang out with the other kids. I know better. I want to let her run and go hang out. I did once- I won’t do it again. Within an hour she had shot a gun and been kissed by a boy. A boy she had never met nor seen again. A boy who could have done anything and she wouldn’t have stopped it. Would she have? I don’t know. I knew better and I fail sometimes.

How do I trust the world with Irene? The tears well up as I type these keys. My child. The brilliant young girl who has her whole life ahead of her. As she gets ready for AP exams and SAT’s I secretly wonder to myself does she understand? She has hundreds of emails and letters coming for colleges, I am not sure if she even knows what any of that means. I have to remind her and ask constantly for more information. There is no excitement, there is no “normal” joy. It’s just another day and another college- the latest from Vassar.

I am both excited and afraid. How do I let her go? Do I let her go far or do I keep her close? The truth is I know already. None of it matters because she will either do great or she won’t- just like any other kid. There are no safe guards. I hope I can find a place where she is comfortable, where she will thrive. A place that will understand and be accepting. A place where she and I both feel safe. She will need help and that is my job as her parent to make sure she gets everything she needs! I know that! She can do it!

There was a time- a time when she didn’t talk. She stared blankly into the air, defecated on herself, cried uncontrollably and was inconsolable. A time where they said things like she will never be able to live alone, may be able to hold a part-time job with assistance. Well we are way beyond those times. We have grown and these are new times. I don’t have all the answers. I am trying to catch-up myself sometimes. So when I see other people who are just like us- I smile because I know. It’s impossible to forget.

The Chicken Lady

Vassar